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LATIN AMERICA

Brazil’s Lula da Silva named minister to secure immunity in Petrobras case

The former president’s party claims move is also aimed at redirecting economic policy

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on March 4.
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on March 4. AP

The former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is to become a new minister in the Cabinet of current leader in the Latin American country, Dilma Rousseff. The post will see Lula become the right-hand man of Rousseff in the government, and will also give him protection from the courts in the ongoing Petrobras corruption investigation.

Earlier this month Brazil’s Federal Police took Lula away for questioning after searching both his house and that of his son. The operation was linked to the nationwide Lava Jato investigation into corruption allegations at state oil company Petrobras.

His new status as minister will give Lula immunity from lower courts, and he can now only be tried by the Federal Supreme Court.

Rousseff and Lula’s party, the PT, insist that the appointment is not just aimed at protecting the former leader from the judge in charge of the probe, but also is connected to a shift in economic policy, which will see more public investment and more public spending.

What’s more, Rousseff will now enjoy the negotiating skills of Lula and his proven charisma when it comes to seeking parliamentary allies to avoid the impeachment being faced by the current president, which could see her removed from office in just a month. Proponents of impeachment accuse her of violating fiscal laws in order to adjust the 2015 federal budget.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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